What is "Anathema"


#1

I ask this question following listening intently to Karl Keatings’ debate with a Baptist Preacher on youtube (another thread pointed me to this). By the way, I admire Mr. Keatings courage allowing himself to debate a powerful debater and obvioulsy quite intelligent, well read man on the man’s home turf in front of an almost hostile crowd of clearly anti-Catholic protestants. Mr Keating, IMO, clearly put forth the more convincing arguments. However I was left with this difficulty that I hope the good people of Catholic Answer Forums might cast some light on.

Summarized, the issue is this: The preacher read some powerful statements from (I believe) the Council of Trent. I will use just a couple of examples (not necassarily the examples used by the preacher) to illustrate my point:

CANON XXVII.-If any one saith, that there is no mortal sin but that of infidelity; or, that grace once received is not lost by any other sin, however grievous and enormous, save by that of infidelity ; let him be anathema.

CANON XXIII.-lf any one saith, that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he that falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the other hand, that he is able, during his whole life, to avoid all sins, even those that are venial,-except by a special privilege from God, as the Church holds in regard of the Blessed Virgin; let him be anathema.

Please, my question is not in these two statements, my question is the general use of the word anathema by the Council.

Mr Keating stated (paraphrased) that the word anathema does not mean the condemnation to hell but means excommunication. He further stated that these statements only apply to Catholics and not to those outside the church because those outside the church cannot be guilty of heresy.

I wanted to trust this statement by Mr. Keating so I googled the web definition of “anathema”

Definition: Something which is “anathema” is something which is polluted or accursed. Paul used this term to refer to someone who has been completely rejected by God

Further I retrieved the web definition of accursed:

Definition: According to Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary, to be accursed is to be “ruined or doomed to utter destruction.”

This seems to compromise Mr. Keatings’ point. Since we believe “Completely rejected by God” to mean putting one’s soul in a great deal of jeopardy (we never make the claim anyone is in hell, this was also stated by Mr. Keating).

It would appear to me that the council did indeed mean that we consider the state of one in anathema (for all the reasons stated in the council) to be in a perilous state indeed, based on the two above definitions of anathema and accursed.

Did Mr. Keating underestimate the intentions of the statements of the council? I trust not, that is why I am hoping for clearification.


#2

Anathema is a legal term indicating the severest of excommunications. It has this particular, limited meaning in the context of the legal canons of the Council of Trent.

An example from another realm is the word “condemned.” If a house is “condemned,” does this mean that it’s “accursed”? Of course not. It simply means that it’s unsafe for use and will be torn down. The house isn’t going to hell because it’s “condemned” – the word “condemned” has a particular meaning in the context of “the state of houses.” Likewise the word “anathema” has a particular meaning in the context of the legal canons of councils.

Jeremy


#3

anathema as used in the decrees of the council of Trent and similar proclamations has a specific canon law meaning, and is defined as Karl states.


#4

Thank you, this would explain the apparent discrepency between our (Catholic view) of the church itself not announcing condemnation on any soul and this wording seemingly doing just that based on the more common understanding of the word.

However given the often anti-catholic sentiment of our fundementalist brothers in Christ, it would seem a better choice of a word (ex-communication?) might have provided them with less fuel against us.


#5

All you ever wanted to know about anathema, you will find in this article.


#6

“Anathema” comes from Gal 1:6-8 and simply means condemmed by God – is cursed by God to hell.


#7

“Anathema” has been watered down in Catholic circles of the modern era.

Here is a Pope’s understanding of what anathema means:

"Wherefore in the name of God the All-powerful, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of the Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of all the saints, in virtue of the power which has been given us of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth, we deprive N-- himself and all his accomplices and all his abettors of the Communion of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, we separate him from the society of all Christians, we exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church in Heaven and on earth, we declare him excommunicated and anathematized and we judge him condemned to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate, so long as he will not burst the fetters of the demon, do penance and satisfy the Church; we deliver him to Satan to mortify his body, that his soul may be saved on the day of judgment."
newadvent.org/cathen/01455e.htm

Anathema surely meant condemned and rejected by God and removed from the Body of Christ. The earlier Catholics did not have any qualms about saying so.

If you want to soften up the word by changing the word use to “excommunication,” the next question that must be asked is excommunication FROM WHAT?

(By the way, do Catholics ever address their anti-Protestant sentiments…or is that only a one way street?)


#8

Condemned by God? It says “In the name of God…WE declare him…anathema.” But, it also says, “that his soul may be saved on the day of judgment” Thus it appears you have missed the mark.

Perhaps Catholics are best at describing what it is Catholics believe, and non-Catholics are best at describind what it is non-Catholics believe.


#9

I think between all the ellipsis, you missed the rest of the declaration.


#10

No, I get it, but I also have studied Catholicism in-depth, and live Catholicism. I’m not an outsider attempting to interpret that which they do not understand. It would be much like me trying to explain Buddhism to a Buddhist, and expecting him to take me seriously.:rolleyes: It’s not anti-Protestantism…just common sense.


#11

Me as well.

I also have studied Catholicism in depth and was a Catholic for most of my life.

I am definitely not an outsider, though I know it sounds better to label me as such.


#12

:thumbsup:
Gal 1:8 *“If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed (*anathema).” Note the word is used to condemn false teaching - exactly when the Church uses it.

Nita


#13

I listened to the debate. That pastor really got on my nerves. “We know the Bible is inspired because of science and mathematical statistics.” He kept rambling on about how we don’t need anything to know the Bible is true except science and math. How logical is that?

Karl Keating’s logic and reasoning was far superior.

In Pax Christi
Andrew


#14

Great! Do you still have a license in Sacred Theology? Cuz, if your profile is true in stating you are a non-Catholic, then it seem that you are indeed a non-Catholic. Not a label, just a fact.

You see, non-Catholics are not Catholics, and thus lack much credibility in teaching Catholicism.


#15

Another hour, another regurgitated Protestant troll by Atemi.

No, it hasn’t. It was the strictest form of excommunication.

Anathema surely meant condemned and rejected by God and removed from the Body of Christ. The earlier Catholics did not have any qualms about saying so.

Odd how you stopped quoting the Catholic encyclopedia when it supported exactly what I said concerning anathema. Let’s continue the quote, shall we?

Whereupon all the assistants respond: “Fiat, fiat, fiat.” The pontiff and the twelve priests then cast to the ground the lighted candles they have been carrying, and notice is sent in writing to the priests and neighbouring bishops of the name of the one who has been excommunicated and the cause of his excommunication, in order that they may have no communication with him. Although he is delivered to Satan and his angels, he can still, and is even bound to repent. The Pontifical gives the form for absolving him and reconciling him with the Church. The promulgation of the anathema with such solemnity is well calculated to strike terror to the criminal and bring him to a state of repentance, especially if the Church adds to it the ceremony of the Maranatha.

Let’s look at what Paul commanded the Corinthian Church to do in the case of serious sin:

When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

“Deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh”? Sounds just like that portion of the rite of Anathema you quoted!

(By the way, do Catholics ever address their anti-Protestant sentiments…or is that only a one way street?)

Anathemas only apply to Catholics, since those who aren’t within the boundaries of the Church cannot be excommunicated therefrom.

Atemi, your accusations are getting more and hackneyed. At least try to produce some original material that people here haven’t dealt with time and time and time again.

I am definitely not an outsider, though I know it sounds better to label me as such.

Your constant lack of understanding of the Catholic Church say it much better than we can.

Jeremy


#16

The word technically means cut off from, seperate from, outside of.

ana (not, opposite of) + *tithenai *(to place, to set, to put together)

(same general root as root as the English word ‘antithesis’)


#17

So one needs a “license in Sacred Theology” to understand what the Catholic Church has taught and teaches?

How is it anyone is a Catholic then?

What “anathema” has historically meant in the RCC cannot be just swept away and relegated to elitists to ponder. We all can see.


#18

Another hour, another regurgitated Protestant troll by Atemi.

So you think calling people names is a correct expression of Catholic charity?

Just deal with substance. It is more respectful and Christian than name calling.

“Anathema” has been watered down in Catholic circles of the modern era.

No, it hasn’t. It was the strictest form of excommunication.

Yes. The strictest form of excommunication that condemns the recipient “to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate.”

Yes. The strictest form for sure.

Anathema surely meant condemned and rejected by God and removed from the Body of Christ. The earlier Catholics did not have any qualms about saying so.

Odd how you stopped quoting the Catholic encyclopedia when it supported exactly what I said concerning anathema. Let’s continue the quote, shall we?

How does any of this change the point made?

I guess we are in agreement.

Quote:
Whereupon all the assistants respond: “Fiat, fiat, fiat.” The pontiff and the twelve priests then cast to the ground the lighted candles they have been carrying, and notice is sent in writing to the priests and neighbouring bishops of the name of the one who has been excommunicated and the cause of his excommunication, in order that they may have no communication with him. Although he is delivered to Satan and his angels, he can still, and is even bound to repent. The Pontifical gives the form for absolving him and reconciling him with the Church. The promulgation of the anathema with such solemnity is well calculated to strike terror to the criminal and bring him to a state of repentance, especially if the Church adds to it the ceremony of the Maranatha.

Let’s look at what Paul commanded the Corinthian Church to do in the case of serious sin:

Quote:
When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

“Deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh”? Sounds just like that portion of the rite of Anathema you quoted!

And your point is?

I was only relaying the historical meaning of anathema. It seems you again agree.

(By the way, do Catholics ever address their anti-Protestant sentiments…or is that only a one way street?)

Anathemas only apply to Catholics, since those who aren’t within the boundaries of the Church cannot be excommunicated therefrom.

You are incorrect, Jeremy, though I understand that is the regular refrain. Here is the correct teaching:

all who have been baptized are liable to excommunication, even those who have never belonged to the true Church, since by their baptism they are really her subjects, though of course rebellious ones”

newadvent.org/cathen/05678a.htm

And regarding the RCC’s many anathemas:

“the anathema was pronounced chiefly against heretics

newadvent.org/cathen/01455e.htm

Are Protestants heretics, Jeremy?

Need I post a thread?

No.

Atemi, your accusations are getting more and hackneyed.

Accusations?

I made no accusations. I relayed the historical RC position regarding “anathema” and what it means.

You should thank me for being true to the history of the word and it’s uses.


#19

I didn’t call anyone names.

Just deal with substance. It is more respectful and Christian than name calling.

The “substance” of your posts is that they are regurgitated trolls. I’ve read them a hundred times before you posted them. You add nothing but the standard arguments already refuted elsewhere.

Yes. The strictest form of excommunication that condemns the recipient “to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate.”

Yes. The strictest form for sure.

Yes, Atemi, we know you can take quotes out of context. That’s not a surprise, no need to continue to prove it. In fact, the rite of anathema said, “we judge him condemned.” It does not say that the Church condemns them, but that it “judges them condemned.” It’s like Paul did when he said of those who sought to be justified by circumcision, “they are severed from Christ” or of the divisive man “such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” To be “judged condemned” is for the Church to declare that someone, but his actions or beliefs, has revealed to be condemned by the standard of the Gospel as it was once for all given to the saints.

How does any of this change the point made?

I guess we are in agreement.

Not at all. You said, "If you want to soften up the word by changing the word use to ‘excommunication,’ " and I replied with a portion of the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Anathema (one that you failed to quote) that indicated that “excommunication” is a fundamental quality of what an anathema is.

And your point is?

I was only relaying the historical meaning of anathema. It seems you again agree.

You were saying that I was “softening it” by calling it “the strictest form of excommunication,” and I have shown that not to be the case.

You are incorrect, Jeremy, though I understand that is the regular refrain. Here is the correct teaching:

“all who have been baptized are liable to excommunication, even those who have never belonged to the true Church, since by their baptism they are really her subjects, though of course rebellious ones”

And here’s the rest of the quote:

[indent]Moreover, the Church excommunicates not only those who abandon the true faith to embrace schism or heresy, but likewise the members of heretical and schismatic communities who have been born therein. As to the latter, however, it is not question of personal excommunication; the censure overtakes them in their corporate capacity, as members of a community in revolt against the true Church of Jesus Christ.

And regarding the RCC’s many anathemas:

Are Protestants heretics, Jeremy?

Materially, sure. Do any of them who have no personally defected from the Church have personal anathemas declared against them? Please provide a reference.

Accusations?

I made no accusations. I relayed the historical RC position regarding “anathema” and what it means.

No, you relayed your own private interpretation of the historical Catholic position regarding anathema and what it means. Actually, I’m not entirely sure what you’re really saying in this thread anyway; you’ve already noted that “you and I are in agreement” so you seem to have abandoned your claim that we’re “softening” anathema into excommunication. So what, exactly, are you here for?

(Isn’t it odd how so many Protestants take issue with the anathemas of the Council of Trent, but we never hear about those dread anathemas of the Council of Nicea?)

Jeremy


#20

The “substance” of your posts is that they are regurgitated trolls. I’ve read them a hundred times before you posted them. You add nothing but the standard arguments already refuted elsewhere.

I know that you really believe every question has been answered and every critique destroyed, because that is your job as an apologist for the RCC.

Just about every thread here and everywhere else amounts to the “standard arguments.” I don’t think there are any new arguments, on either side, that have not been brought up in 500 years.

Yes, Atemi, we know you can take quotes out of context. That’s not a surprise, no need to continue to prove it.

I took nothing out of context. I simply quoted the Catholic Encyclopedia.

In fact, the rite of anathema said, “we judge him condemned.” It does not say that the Church condemns them, but that it “judges them condemned.”

Irrelevant.

I don’t care who judges what. All I did was post the fact that that excommunication condemns the recipient to Hellfire.

Anathema is the worst form of excommunication. We do not need to be rocket scientists to figure the rest out.

You said, "If you want to soften up the word by changing the word use to ‘excommunication,’ " and I replied with a portion of the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Anathema (one that you failed to quote) that indicated that “excommunication” is a fundamental quality of what an anathema is.

I agree with you. Why would you post something that I agree with?

In any event, it is the RCC that pronounces anathemas and excommunicates. That is all that is relevant.

You were saying that I was “softening it” by calling it “the strictest form of excommunication,” and I have shown that not to be the case.

No. Please follow the thread a little better.

I did not say YOU want to soften up the word. I was replying to Mijoy here: forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=2071346&postcount=1

He asked if excommunication was a “better choice of word” rather than anathema.

And here’s the rest of the quote:

Moreover, the Church excommunicates not only those who abandon the true faith to embrace schism or heresy, but likewise the members of heretical and schismatic communities who have been born therein. As to the latter, however, it is not question of personal excommunication; the censure overtakes them in their corporate capacity, as members of a community in revolt against the true Church of Jesus Christ.

Again, irrelevant.

Do you think we feel better if the anathema or excommunication applies to us corporately, but not personally?

Please. No.

It would change nothing.

We must also keep in mind that the anathemas are directed at individuals “If anyone…anathema.”


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